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See Yourself In Cyber, Protect One Another

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

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By Joel Thacker

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the cyber risks to our way of life have never been more serious.

The theme this year is “See Yourself in Cyber.” Those who stay diligent to avoid scams understand how important individual responsibility is in this fight. Nearly 90 percent of cyberattacks are due to human error, that one person who mistakenly opens an attachment at work, putting an entire organization at risk. It happens every day, but it does not have to be that way.

Corporate data breaches reached an all-time high in 2021 as more people worked remotely and normal safeguards from workstations went by the wayside. In the U.S., the average breach cost companies more than $9 million, with the most expensive occurring in health care. Again, human error led to multimillion-dollar losses.

With more employees back in the office, training has been amplified, and we are hearing more conversations about how we can protect ourselves. The conflict in Russia and Ukraine has presented new and daunting challenges from the cyber world, and players such as China, North Korea and Iran continue to exploit opportunities.

Just this month, an Indiana utility company was hit with a ransomware attack. This is a local problem with local solutions. This is our problem.

The Indiana Office of Technology offers any municipal body a multitude of free or low-cost services to protect government entities from cyberattacks. One key advantage IOT offers for free is online training to all local government employees through its KnowBe4 platform. A full offering of state services can be found on the IOT Local Government Services website.

Additionally, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security soon will administer Indiana’s portion of the $1 billion allocated across four years for cybersecurity as part of the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. Details are still coming together on how many dollars will be coming to state, local and tribal governments in Indiana, but 80 percent of the allocation is earmarked for local government, including rural areas.

The State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program was announced on Sept. 16. It is not yet open for applications, but information about how to apply will be provided in the coming weeks.

Momentum continues to increase for the U.S. to protect itself, its infrastructure and its citizens from the new frontier of online crime. The government is doing its share to better position each state according to its needs.

Each one of us must take ownership of cyberthreats and do our part to protect one another.